National Geographic posted a brief piece on the butchered dog remains from David Anthony and Dorcas Brown’s work at Krasnosamarskoe in the Volga. You can read it at this link. They make the fascinating argument that the killing of dogs was part of rites of initiation into a cohort of warriors. If this is indeed that case, it would raise a number of interesting questions pertinent to the long-standing controversy surrounding Napoleon Chagnon’s ethnographic work with the Yanomami. If violence is socially inculcated within specific historical formations, as Anthony and Brown’s evidence suggests, then that would seem to close the chapter on the exaggerated claims of Chagnon’s initial study.
Category Archives: Archaeology
Upcoming Lecture Series Institute for the Study of the Ancient World @ NYU. The Sovereign Assemblage: Sense, Sensibility, and Sentiment in the Bronze Age Caucasus Adam T. Smith (Cornell University) April 8, 15, 22, & 29 at 6:00pm Lecture Hall … Read more
New press from the Cornell Chronicle on the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies:
The institute includes 18 faculty members and a postdoctoral researcher from five departments (anthropology, classics, history of art, landscape architecture and Near Eastern studies) and two colleges (Arts and Sciences; Agriculture and Life Sciences).
The complete story is here: Cornell Chronicle: Archaeology and material studies institute created.
Announcing the formation of the new Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies. From the website:
The Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies (CIAMS) is the coordinating forum for archaeology activities at Cornell. Through a consortium of graduate students and faculty housed across five academic departments and two colleges at Cornell, CIAMS encourages research, interaction, and innovation in all areas of archaeology and material studies. It promotes and supports advanced training and research opportunities for graduate students in archaeology, integrating the different graduate fields at Cornell that offer degrees in archaeology and material studies.
It seems that the legacy of Tatiana Proskouriakoff, native of Tomsk and famed decipherer of Maya glyphs, has come full circle.
In my opening remarks for the 4th Eurasian Archaeology Conference, I noted some geographic trends in the papers over the course of the last 11 years. Here is the graph
See this post on the EAC website for a brief discussion: Eurasian Archaeology Conferences | @ Cornell University.
This gallery contains 2 photos.
This week, the LOL hosted “artifacts” from the Civilization of Llhuros an experiment in archaeological interpretation. via LOL | The Landscapes and Objects Laboratory at Cornell University.
The 1993 discovery of a tattooed “princess” in a burial on the high Ukok Plateau in the Altai region of southern Siberia drew much deserved archaeological attention back to the region that also yielded the famous Pazyryk tombs. But it also had a rather remarkable impact on the complex intersection of archaeology, memory, and genealogy. A recent article Siberian Times on the find and its ensuing controversy can be found here:
The final section of the article raises the most interesting–and for archaeologist, worrisome–issue. Following a series of happenings–both human and environmental–that attended the removal of the body from the Altai region, a repatriation movement arose demanding the return of the “princess”. Following extended negotiations, the body was moved from its original home in Novosibirsk and this month appears on display in a new home at the Altai Museum in Gorno-Altaisk. But the impact of rediscovery continues to shape regional research:
The Altai authorities have now declared the remote mountain area from where the princess and her kinsmen were buried as a ‘zone of peace’ where no more excavations will take place, despite the near-certain treasures lying in the permafrost.
What is worrisome here is the equation of the absence of archaeology as a state of “peace”. Archaeological research then is equated with an act of violence. While archaeology can play a role in strategies of domination and can be used as a tool of appropriation, it need not be and the discipline is in considerable jeopardy if we let it become that. This means working collaboratively with local stakeholders such that a “zone of peace” is a place where archaeology takes place, not an area from which it is absent.
A NYTimes article on Friday considers a recent computer model of language divergence that places proto-Indo-European (PIE) speakers in Anatolia 8,000-9,500 years ago in small agricultural villages. The model thus stands in opposition to the argument for PIE arising on the Pontic Steppe sometime after 3500 BC advanced most systematically by David Anthony.
I leave the linguistic assumptions built into the model for others to critique. But there is an archaeological question which the model will find hard to address: what social dynamic does the early Anatolian model provide for the expansion of Indo-European? Small agricultural villages do not have built into their social dynamics an obvious mechanism for wide-scale expansion. One clear advantage of the steppe origins model is the clear socio-technical apparatus for rapid expansion provided by horse riding and chariots/wagons. The Neolithic Anatolian village provides no such mechanism.
This is not to argue that extension would be impossible–obviously farming and its technologies diffused widely. But the hoe and the horse are not equivalent technologies of dissemination. The hoe is a scale-narrowing object–one that yokes the land to human production by tying farmers to very local places (as opposed, for example, to the wider ranges of foragers). The horse, in contrast, is a scale expanding technology, one that encourages a wide-ranging sense of place. Missing from the Neolithic Anatolian model then is a sense of how language dispersal could have been so dramatically scaled up even as the lives of its putative speakers was scaling down.